What's the charm of this place?
This trip was an unplanned solo trip during my holidays on Brazil's National Day. This is perhaps the best thing about living and working in this country because I get to enjoy plenty of holidays! ThankyouBrazil!
From my adopted city, Vitoria, I took a night bus that took about eight hours to get to the bus station of Ouro Preto. (R$200 round trip)
I found a travel agency that arranged everything for me because I still have to hone my language skills in Portuguese. They also arranged my hotel which was conveniently located right outside the bus station or the rodoviária on the northwestern edge of town.
Boroni Palace Hotel was my home away from home and I did love staying there! (R$850 for 5 nights stay including breakfast).
This was my view from my hotel room of the bus station.
The town's main tourist attractions are the Baroque style churches and houses that has truly made me--- mesmerized! Thus, I called this place, majestic!
I barely read my guidebook about Ouro Preto because I was ready to be awed! And just take it as it is. I was forewarned though-- to be extra careful, since it was my first solo trip in Brazilian soil.
I am happy to report that the town is extremely safe for tourists and I had never once felt in danger! Yes, I made it home in one piece! ;)
Since the town is very steeply and have cobbled streets, you need to arm yourself with the most comfortable pairs of footwear! I on the otherhand, is very much comfortable walking in my flip-flops all day long! These pairs of Havaianas was my best friend! I certainly did A LOT of walking. I can't remember when was the last time I did walk like that.
So let me introduce you to the churches around the town. As a Catholic, this place was certainly jaw dropping! I had goosebumps whenever I entered each of them. There are about 10 churches around Ouro Preto and I had my early Visita Iglesia in some of them....
Disclaimer: All indoor pictures were "subtly" taken by me because it's not allowed to really take pictures.
Igreja Nossa Senhora do Carmo
The Rococo font (in the sacristy), door-case, the altars, and the statue of Santa Helena in this church are all attributed to Aleijadinho-- one of Brazil's most highly-regarded artists. He intricately carved the stones that resulted to such magnificent beauty.
In English, this is the Church of Mount Carmel. Just look at the details of the paintings on the ceiling of the church. How beautiful! The church has undergone numerous conservation and restoration works until 1965. (Entrance fee R$3.00)
Igreja de São Francisco de Assis
The church of St. Francis de Assisi is one of Latin America' most important Rococo buildings. The church combines the finest workw of Aleijadinho and Mestre Athayde-- another Brazilian painter, sculptor, gilder and teacher. My favorite one among all the churches, I've visited! (Entrance fee R$10.00)
Here's a closer look at the façade of the St. Francis de Assisi church. The great carvings, especially the upper one that shows St. Francis receiving the stigmata is believed to have been Aleijadinho's first great carvings amongst the many he created throughout the country.
Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Pilar
The Church of Our Lady of Pilar is the oldest church in the town was designed by one of Aleijadinho's mentors and completed in 1731 to replace the original main church. Despite the rather stark outward appearance, the interior glistens with almost 1000 pounds of gold and almost 900 pounds of silver. The carvings are all breathtaking! (Entrance fee R$10.00)
Igreja São Francisco de Paula
The church of San Francisco de Paula was completed in the 1898, this church took a whooping 94 years to complete. Inside are Aleijadinho's sculpture of the saint after which it is names, as well as a life-size sculpture of the Last Supper.
This is the church closest to my hotel and where I attended a Sunday mass. (Entrance fee is free but only opens on Sunday.)
Igreja Nossa Senhora das Mercês e Misericórdia
Also known as the Church of Our Lady of Mercy. It was built between 1771 and 1793.
Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora da Conceição
The church of Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion is famous for its eight lavishly decorated altars. The cemetery here has the grave of Aleijadinho, and the sacristy houses a museum dedicated to him. Built in 1727. (Closed for renovations.)
Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário
*The Church of Our Lady of Rosary was built in 1785 with slave labor. Slaves were forbidden to worship at any other church. The church has a unique shape, with a contour formed by three convergent ovals. (Closed on Mondays)
This town attracts more tourists during Holy Week or Semana Santa. I was totally in love of the place that I don't mind going back-- hopefully I can bring my parents who are hardcore Catholics! ;)
*Source Infos: Wikitravel.com and DK Eyewitness Brazil Guidebook.